Planned development of the Port of Fort Pierce is undergoing its initial stage and already encountering various obstacles.
The development proposition comes at a time when the sole port operator, Atlantic Caribbean Line, is laying off workers due to a standstill of construction projects in the Bahamas, TC Palm news site cited Ken Roberts of Indian River Terminal as saying.
Another major reason for the setback in the construction projects is the absence of maintenance dredging of the main channel, which is 10 feet smaller from its designated depth, namely 28 feet.
For almost a decade now, the port authority didn’t submit a single application for dredging to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Various reasons have influenced the failure to dredge out the channel including budget cuts, along with a backlog of dredging projects to complete.
Shoaling, constituting a hazard to navigation and a dire need for dredging have over time reduced the size of ships able to use the port.
It is now up to the relevant bodies to prepare the necessary paperwork in order to file a new application as soon as possible, because dredging represents the basic infrastructure and is an imperative for further continuation of the development project. The permit will amount to USD 500,000.
There are still several months before the project takes its shape, in which process various other issues will have to be tackled. These include potential restructuring of the port bodies, with an emphasis on creating a one-stop shop to facilitate strategic, planning and zoning issues within the port. In addition, trained labor force is another prerequisite for continuation of the envisaged expanding of the port’s cargo operations.
Dredging Today Staff, July 19, 2012; Image: shipacl